Picking up where I left off in the first half of our Jordan trip recap, we were in Petra. This is the mother of all tourist attractions here – a huge ancient city with gorgeous facades carved into the mountains. We got to the gate to meet our guide at 7am when it was still relatively cool out.
A bit of a walk on the dusty road from the gate, complete with horses running free around us, got us to the start of the Siq – the winding passageway in between two steep rock faces that make the hallway that opens up directly to the Treasury.
The area right in front of the Treasury has a restaurant and a souvenir stand. Kind of off-putting in but a welcome stop for a drink while we heard more about the history from the guide. A few resident cats hung around doing cute things while I snapped away. No doubt the locals thought it hilarious that we could stand in the shadow of an ancient wonder and be more enthralled by a mewing kitten. (Jordanians do not keep cats or dogs as pets which makes it even more of an oddity for them.) After that we went full on cheese and road a camel around the area for some photos.
We were warned that we would encounter huge crowds at Petra but didn’t have that experience at all thanks to the fact that tourism is extremely down in Jordan thanks to Arab spring. There were quite a few people milling about the Treasury on the way and in and out but hardly an overwhelming number. So we were very lucky to visit this amazing site in relative peace.
Off we went to make the walk up the hill to see the Monastery. In other circumstances, it wouldn’t have been that difficult but the heat and sun were taking its toll on me. After hiking up about halfway, I gave up and took a donkey the remainder of the way up to Al Deir. Based on the fact we were practically alone there, I suppose a lot of people were having the same troubles on that day. It was an interesting site but I had just about enough time in the sun and I wanted out of there. A few more photos here and there before we hoofed it out of Petra. A cool shower never felt so good!
That night we were back in Petra for the fabulous Petra by Night performance and then feasted at a nearby restaurant and tried out the hookah. I couldn’t quite master it but it was a fun evening.
The following day was a night in the dessert at a ‘camp’ in Wadi Rum. The highlight of the day was a jeep tour of the rock formations and sand dunes followed by a beautiful sunset. Our guide was quite a character, driving over steep dunes, writing our names in the sand (anyone read Arabic and can confirm?), stopping in a Bedouin tent for tea and pushing us down a dune to enjoy a little tumble.
On our last day we stopped in Aqaba where we cooled off from the scorching heat by taking a snorkeling trip in the Red Sea. It was a fun day with our only rude encounter (a man on a pier spotted us in our bathing suits and made a lewd thrusting gesture) but we just laughed it off.
A four hour drive back to Amman with a quick but disappointing stop at Rainbow Street followed by a delicious, dirt cheap meal at Hashim rounded out the trip.
I should mention that we felt quite safe there – even when walking around at night. With the exception of that one guy on the pier, we didn’t have any weird encounters or feel uncomfortable as Americans there at all. So if you are thinking of going and are worried about safety or odd looks, I would definitely encourage you to go for it.
Overall it was a very successful trip – we saw what we planned to see and Jordan held a few beautiful surprises for us as well.